Day 19 & 20: Afternoon with THE Queen, Stonehenge & Bath

Odd how this whole trip to England has been. First, the fog and rain meant that almost all of the trains were either delayed or canceled going to Newark Airport. When I finally got to Newark, the Air Train wasn’t working and I had to carry my suitcases down a stairwell to catch a bus to the terminal. Thank God one of the workers found me dragging my 36 pound suitcase down the stairwell.

Everything just wasn’t starting off well at all.  [And yes, I had a feeling the universe was trying to tell me something about London.]

It took two hours to get from the airport to the hotel. It took me forever to drag my suitcases from the train station to the hotel. I was so tired by the time I got to the hotel.

I tried to check-in early so I could refresh a little before heading out to see a show. Answer to that was NO. So I left for the show without even brushing my teeth!

I popped in some gum and asked the usher if I could sit in a row away from everyone else. He said it was fine since it wasn’t a sold out show.

What did I see? I saw “We Will Rock You.” It’s a musical of Queen songs written by Brian May (of Queen) and Ben Elton.

I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or what, but I started bawling when they did “We Will Rock You.” And then I cried again during “We are the Champions.” And then I really bawled like crazy during “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

I could blame it on the lack of sleep or how I’m 35 years old and my hormones are now starting to go uber weird on me or it’s because I kept thinking of Freddie Mercury and how he should have been here to see this musical. I think it may have been the latter more than anything else.

Freddie Mercury died of bronchopneumonia (from AIDS) just one day after he announced that he had the disease.

Man…rockstars just get to me. I don’t know what it is about them that really make me start crying. I don’t know…I don’t know.

At any rate…that’s all I did on Saturday. I won’t even go into the fiasco of this hotel. I’ll leave that with Hotels.com. I have to charge my laptop and Blackberry in the lounge. The question would be WHY CAN’T I DO IT IN MY ROOM? Well, I would if the damn electrical outlets worked. Don’t even get me started on the…I had to take a bath in a hotel bathtub. To me, that is the grossest thing EVER.

So can’t wait to go to France now.

On Sunday, I headed to Stonehenge and Bath. Stonehenge was interesting and boring all at the same time. The only thing that caught my attention were the flocks of black birds that hang around the Stonehenge. They fly around in huge flocks around the entire Stonehenge area. I’ve only seen that happen when graveyards and death were around. Oh wait, apparently that’s what the Stonehenge is. Well, according to the latest research, that’s what it is. It’s involved in death rites.

I found it interesting that Druids do practice there (which I don’t know how they can if they can’t get anywhere close to the Stonehenge), but the Druids building the Stonehenge…that’s a MYTH. Learn something new every day.

After Stonehenge, we headed to Bath. I’m really glad I booked this tour because London is boring. You see one city, you’ve seen them all. In Bath, home of the Roman Baths in England, we got to see some incredible Georgian architecture. It was very pretty, but too much shopping. In other words, when I see Banana Republic and Gap…you know I’m not interested in shopping.

I did buy a leather journal where the guy embossed my name on it for me. While he was embossing my name, we got to talking. Ends up, he played hockey when he was a kid. He told me how much crap he used to get when he played, because everyone is so into football in England (that’s soccer in American). So he ended up quitting, but he loved the fact that there was a bona fide hockey columnist buying one of his leather journals.

Odd in the universe’s way.

Now, I’ve been tweeting about what happened at the famous Pump Room Restaurant in Bath today. I was eating my potato and leek soup, sandwich and chips (chips=french fries; crisps=potato chips in the English language). I was enjoying the fact that my stomach wasn’t protesting the food…that is, until two large groups of women were seated in the sections around me.

They kept looking at me and I couldn’t figure out why. I was just enjoying myself in this lovely restaurant, listening to the man playing the piano. Even the mineral water that has ‘healing properties’ was really good (when spiked with strawberries). Then I heard it.

I heard a woman at the next table talking about how my face looked white but it’s apparent that I’m not white. I turned around in mid-meal and asked for the check. I had lost all appetite.

The waitress thought I didn’t like the food. I told her the food was fine. She gave me my check and I gave her 20 pounds. I gathered my things because I decided I wasn’t going to wait for my change. I got up and as I was walking towards the door, I heard her talking to the maitre’d about my strange reaction. She had this odd look on her face like she didn’t understand what had just happened. I walked by and she tried to give me back my change. I said, “No, keep it.”

Both she and the maitre’d were like, “Wow, that’s so nice of you.”

I just wanted to get the hell out of there. It was after that woman pointed out I wasn’t white that I looked around me and noticed that I was the only non-white person in that entire restaurant. It wasn’t the staff that was the problem…it was the customers.

Really? I don’t think about skin color, so to hear a person talking about race and how I’m not WHITE in a restaurant that apparently has NO ONE OF COLOR or of a different race in that establishment…I am not waiting another second to be belittled by an asshole that ended up sitting down next to me.

All I was doing was enjoying my lunch in solitude. Why both tables had to raise the topic of my skin color…or why I was even discussed is beyond me. I wasn’t bothering them. In all honesty, they were bothering me…staring and talking about me.

I was there before they were. I was enjoying my meal quietly. They came and sat down around me and then kept staring at me…even turning around to look at me. I have never met any group of people that were so rude.

I grew up in a town where racism was a part of every day life. The one black kid that showed up during my sophomore year was chased out of town. While most kids in my class and at school didn’t care about my skin, I went away to college, came back and I’m practically being chased down the street with a pitchfork in hand with some old guy screaming, “We don’t want your kind in this town.”

I had to run into the library to seek sanctuary. I literally locked the door behind me. The librarians took one look at me and remembered me from all of the years I spent studying everything I could that I couldn’t get in school. They provided me with sanctuary. The eldest of the librarians went to the door to make the old man leave. She wouldn’t even unlock the door.

I couldn’t understand, because I grew up in that town. My brother was still going to school there. Why would anyone act that way?

I never went back to my hometown again. Even when we have our high school reunion, I don’t go. That’s a world I could leave behind.

Even recently, with my brother and I talking about our family, we’re the outcasts. It’s come down to race. Our family doesn’t want us around because we’re not white. Well, I should say that the matriarch has decided this for the family.

I never thought about skin color or race…not even to this day. But I know when someone with hate in their hearts is aiming it at me, I shouldn’t stick around any longer. You can’t change someone’s mind that there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re a normal human being. All they see is that you’re not white.

I never answer questions about my race because it’s so personal and not for a complete stranger to know. If I know the person, then I’m okay telling them. I don’t tell strangers because I believe you must have racist blood in you if you have to ask what makes me different from you. My answer is usually, “I’m human and that’s all you need to know.”

I’ve been saying that since I was in the 7th grade when asked what my race was on one of those standardized tests. I always marked OTHER and wrote in “HUMAN.” It’s something I still live by to this day. I look at people through their humanity, not through their race or skin color.

On Sunday, when Georges sent me the link to the Colored Hockey League, I thought…YES…why are we not all human, yet? Why is an entire hockey league regarded as non-existent in the hockey history books? Why are they excluded? Why have we not moved on to be human beings?

Ah…see there was a reason why I posted up those two videos yesterday.

Some races or skin colors get prejudices worse than others. I usually brush off most “CHINK” comments or someone pointing out my skin color, but I’ll tell you something…I will not entertain idle talk about how I’m not white. Yeah…I’m human and proud of it. If you have a problem with me excluding myself from the white race, even though I have royal Scottish blood pulsing through these veins, then FUCK OFF.

If the British hadn’t invaded Scotland, those racist bitches would be kissing my royal ass for the opportunity to sit in the same restaurant as me.

And another thing…I’m a writer and the way I’ve immortalized them in my universe is by calling them a bunch of classless racist ignorant bitches…not to mention 100% rude.

The waitress and maitre’d though…they knew something had happened when I practically jetted out of there. I didn’t have the patience to explain to them that they had sat a bunch of racist bitches around me. It’s not their fault because they had no idea. Ignorance can be hidden until someone opens their mouth and lets it be known.

Getting back to that guy that played hockey as a kid…there’s a universal irony here that years later, he ended up meeting a hockey writer from NYC (he said he was there just recently…during Hurricane Irene). He told me about the prejudices he had endured as a child just to play the game of hockey…right after I had experienced that racial crap at The Pump Room restaurant just an hour before.

You know what I’m thinking, right? England is not my kind of place.

In London alone, there is a strange vibration here in the city that makes all of the electronic devices I’m carrying around me shake. For me, in my condition, it wears down the body at a much faster pace. I’m sleeping more because my body is saying that there is something wrong.

It’s coupled by the fact that my stomach really hates London. I mean I try to eat and then it just decides…nope…hate it. Stop trying to put it down. It sucks…won’t allow it down.

Also, what is their fascination with chips (i.e. French Fries in American)? Or shall we say…ANYTHING POTATO. Every meal, a plate of ‘chips’ comes with it. I hate telling the waitress…ummmm my stomach doesn’t like ‘chips.’ It abhors it.

But for the sake of being in England, I’ve been attempting to eat chips sans ketchup and with vinegar. I said I’ve been attempting the British tradition. My stomach still doesn’t like it.

They also have too much cold food. Hot food is so bland my stomach is ready just to protest it all and say…we’ll eat when we get to France. The only thing I’ve liked since I got here is the potato and leek soup from The Pump Room. At least I got that down before the bitches sat down next to me.

I’ve also tried their cheese sandwiches, because I heard a little girl going on and on about how she couldn’t wait to have a cheese sandwich. Not grilled cheese, mind you. I’m talking two slices of bread with some kind of non-American cheese in the middle.

I found Camden Food Co. on Sunday…an organic market. But they only sell take away food, so it’s only sandwiches and pastries. I’m not a big fan of cold food, but it’s either this or give in and starve until Paris.

Trust me, that fear of food has really set in. Fear to not find suitable means, and fear that the body will not allow it in. I’ve had more instances of needing to throw up then I’ve had in the last year. It’s just a sign that English food is not good for you at all.

So back to Bath. I enjoyed watching the street performers. I saw a tightrope walker that played the violin. I saw a guy on a unicycle juggling torches. Bath is a very beautiful village. I picked up 3 classic books and that leather-bound journal. At Stonehenge, I bought a jar of lemon cured butter and a gooseberry chutney. Guess we’ll see if it’s any good when I get back to the States.

It’s probably bland. But at home, I can make it taste better.

I captured a lot of pictures of Bath while I was there. Maybe not as much as I usually would, but it’s enough. There’s just something about England that I’m not seeing the beautiful moments. It’s a place that still talks about the war (I’m talking about World War II, the Battle for Waterloo…you get my point).

On the way to Bath, the tour guide pointed out a village the Military of Defense took over back in World War II. They said they needed it for state reasons. Everyone was supposed to get their homes back after the war, but no one did. The village is a complete ghost town…and by village, I’m talking about a good 30,000 residents there. Imagine a whole town completely left to fall to ruins. No one is allowed to live there or go within a mile of it. It’s called the Lost Village of Imber.

Bath was spared the German bombers because it was too far out of reach for them back then. In a way, it was a good thing. There’s a lot of history there dating back to the Romans in 5 B.C.

Bath is a beautiful place. If you’re ever in England, make the Stonehenge/Bath tour part of your trip. It’s pretty, but don’t let the yahoos get to you.

Back in London today (Monday). I’m supposed to tour around London today, but I may just go and lay back down in bed for the next few hours. I had to take an allergy pill today and my body is still feeling that strange vibrating pull.

I’m glad I never moved to London. I’m glad I moved to NYC instead. I think I would have hated London. As the Bath hockey player said, “Every city starts to look the same.” That is the truth. Everywhere I go, I think…I’ve seen that in NYC. There are stores like that back in NYC. In other words, if I can find it back home, I’m not visiting it or shopping there.

Even the style of clothes…not so different than casual stuff back in the States. Rather bland, I might say.

I guess you can say that the thrill and excitement of London…it’s quite boring.

So much of it sucks. The hotel I’m in…I have to sit in the lounge in order to charge my laptop and Blackberry. Going green for this hotel meant non-working outlets in each of the rooms…and no real showers. Just so gross sitting in a hotel bathtub to clean yourself. So gross.

At any rate…I so need to lay down. My body is begging to leave London now rather than tomorrow morning.

Maybe after I rest again I can find something about London that I’ll love. I’m keeping the opportunity to be amazed open to possibilities.

About Michelle Kenneth

Michelle Kenneth has been a member of the NHL credentialed media covering the New Jersey Devils since 2008 for Inside Hockey. She is the owner or PerfectionistWannabe.com.